(Submitted by Kimberly Roush, Program Assistant, Ohio Cooperative Development Center and Business Development Network, OSU South Centers)
Piano Safari – A Method for Beginning Pianists
Katherine Fisher is on the faculty of the Athens Community Music School at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Her responsibilities include teaching private piano lessons as well as coordinating group lessons for beginners.
When Katherine was in graduate school, just over 10 years ago, she met another student, Dr. Julie Knerr, with the same interest of creating a piano method. Julie is on the piano faculty of the Hartt School of Music Community Division in West Hartford, Connecticut, where she teaches private and group piano to students of all ages.
The two worked on their first book for many years before they actually started their business. In 2012, they formed as an LLC and began selling the Piano Safari® Method.
Katherine said, “Piano Safari creates instructional material for beginning pianists. We currently sell two levels and are working on our third. We print, distribute, and ship all of our materials. The majority of sales are generated online via our website.”
The Piano Safari® Method components work together to provide students with a solid foundation in musical literacy through:
• Learning by eye. Reading Pieces and Sight Reading & Rhythm Cards using a systematic intervallic system
• Learning by ear. Rote Pieces that are very patterned
Piano Safari’s target market is piano teachers and parents. They have served approximately 1,000 customers over the last two years in the U.S., Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and other countries throughout the world.” Piano Safari markets on social networks, and they get great reviews from piano teachers who write articles for blogs.
Katherine continues, “We have been selling in the U.S. and became interested in expanding our international market. That is one of the reasons I contacted Melissa Carter at the International Trade Assistance Center for help. It is difficult to ship our material internationally because it is expensive. As a result, I have been looking for ways to make it more cost effective. Melissa is helping us connect with an international distributor to get more input. Melissa also helped me find grants. The grant provides assistance with expenses for attending international conferences and trade shows.”
Describing the benefit of working with Melissa, Katherine states, “Melissa has a wonderful response time and she answers question quickly. If she doesn’t know the answer to a question, she will put me in contact with the person or information that I need. I just feel thankful that I have someone I can ask questions about international business.”